Editor’s note: This story has updated with additional comments from people attending the meeting.
Several dozen Evanstonians packed the conference room at Robert Crown Center, 1801 Main St., Wednesday evening, March 8, for an open house on the city’s shoreline repair project.
“The number one issue for me is accessibility. I think the lakefront should be open and accessible and free to anyone that chooses to use it,” said Evanston resident Janice Kaye.
At the meeting, the Detroit-based design firm SmithGroup presented more than 30 configurations for the nine pieces of the shoreline, with four possible layouts each, stretching from the Sheridan Road retaining wall on the south to the dog beach on the north.
Some of the key suggestions were:
- Improvements to Dempster Street Beach and Greenwood Beach. In 2020 the city carried out emergency repairs at a number of sites along the shoreline, including those two.
- Upgrades to the dog beach, including accessible ramp. The beach reopened March 1, but a recent proposal would set a $15 fee hike for the site. “I’m very concerned about what’s happening on the dog beach, what their plans are,” said Mike Meyers, a First Ward resident who owns two dogs and took issue with the proposed fee increase.
- Lee Street Beach. Three of the four proposed plans for the beach would add sand to combat erosion and flooding.
“It’s not just one solution, it’s a multitude of elements that create a benefit for the community as a whole,” said Chris Devick, a coastal engineer at SmithGroup.
The discussion came after an online survey from the city drew more than 1,300 responses. This followed an earlier survey and open house last fall to gather input.
A majority of those who responded to the survey indicated support for improvements, according to SmithGroup. The project is currently in the planning phase, with SmithGroup continuing to gather public input.
After strong winds and high lake levels damaged and eroded stretches of the city’s lakefront in 2020, the city implemented a road map. “We’re trying to plan for the future,” said Stefanie Levine, senior project manager for the city.
Yes, I’m concerned about the $15 increase for Evanston residents. But i’m much more concerned about $200 per dog for our friends in Skokie and 62103. We all pay the same lower fees to SHARE Pooch Park. Even more concerning is a proposed $500k ADA ramp into the dog beach that has not been researched or reviewed by members of the disabled community who will hopefully us it. Not to mention only three handicapped parking spots also shared with Clark Street Beach patrons!
I’m looking forward to wonderful enhancements at lakefront for people to enjoy and engage!